Ron Hutchcraft writes about the people with whom we “travel” in life….This is a conversation we have as part of the Titus 2 program. Changing one’s life often requires changing the people with whom one “travels”. Learning to be more intentional about the people in one’s life is a skill that demands realistic assessment of situations and behaviors, healthy boundaries, good judgment, godly discernment, and courage to say “no”. But it also requires one to move into new venu…es to seek out new connections as one is distanced from old ones.
As one young lady volunteered yesterday, though, the decision is not always ours. When our lives change some people quickly pull away. When one’s language, values, habits, and preferences change some people will simply leave. She said she had experienced loss of “friends” because of her decision to follow Christ. We talk about this as a form of “soft persecution”….when people mock, jeer, or abandon Christians because they do not want Christ, either by following him themselves or by having too close contact with the lifestyle of those who do. For a new Christian, the loss of people one thought of as “friends” can be painful and confusing
How Your Friends Change Your LIfe
Sometimes you see hitchhikers by the side of the road. What are they usually holding? A sign, usually crudely lettered, and it doesn’t have the name of the car they want to ride in. No, it has the name of a place on it; the place they want to go. On Indian reservations, hitchhiking is a way of life. I asked one of our Native American friends recently about her hitchhiking experiences. She told me she asked only one question before she got in a car. She didn’t care about the make of the car, the driver’s IQ, or where the driver was from. She had one question, “Where are you headed?”
I’m Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about “How Your Friends Change Your Life.”
Hitchhikers have a simple basis for deciding who they will travel with: is this person going where I want to end up? That’s exactly the question we all should have in mind when we’re deciding who we’re going to travel with.
Our word for today from the Word of God is from Proverbs 13:20. This is God’s counsel concerning the people you hang out with, people you spend time with, make friends with, people you date, people you marry. “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.” You tend to become like the people you spend time with. Like a hitchhiker, you end up where the people you are traveling with end up. God reinforces that point in 1 Corinthians 15:33. He just simply says, “Bad company corrupts character.”
If you’re going to make good decisions about who to travel with at your school, at your workplace, in your social life, or even who you’ll marry, you first need to decide what kind of person you want to become; what kind of goals you want to achieve. I hope you want to end up being a positive person, not a negative person. Who needs any more of those? You probably want to end up being caring, not self-centered, encouraging, not tearing people down, living for what really matters instead of just some attractive, meaningless junk.
And if you’ve been to the cross of Jesus to have your sins forgiven; if you belong to Him, I hope you want to end up being someone that Jesus is proud of; someone who lives for the One who died for you – not for some little earth-stuff. Decide what kind of person you want to be; what kind of attitudes you want to have. And then look for some people who have the same “destination sign” as you do.
Your selection of friends, associates, romantic prospects may well be one of the most important choices you will ever make because you will probably end up on the same road as they do. If you’re with people who are spiritually careless, or just don’t care, you’ll probably end up there, too. If you’re with people who just simply settle for mediocrity as a Christian, you will live that grey life like they do. But if you are connected with some people who are going in the “make a difference” direction, the “live for other people” direction, the “live for Jesus” direction, chances are that’s where you’re going to end up – going the direction where your life can mean the most and matter the most, and count for something lasting.
You can ask any hitchhiker, it really does matter who you decide to travel with. You don’t decide who you’re going to go with on the basis of how cool they are, or how well-connected they are, or how exciting their lifestyle looks – or even how they treat you. You ask that all-important, deciding question about who you’re going to spend your time around, “Where are you headed?”
You only travel with someone who’s going to a destination that you’re not ever going to regret.